Hand Tools

Re: Question from Practical Planning Anonymous

David Weaver
I found this plane wasn't flat not by checking the sole, but putting it to the cocobolo test board. four or five shavings and it was still taking the ends off of my test board and not the center.

I know from experience of failure (not supposing failure) that this amount of concavity will make it impossible to joint an edge and continue on, and everything this plane smooths will take a while to get the ends clipped off of the board that it's planing.

If it had been off in the other direction, I'd have never checked it as I wouldn't have had reason to. If It hadn't planed the ends off of an already flat board, I wouldn't have had reason to.

Most older planes are off around this much, sometimes more. Sometimes due to wear, etc. If you're truing boards or smoothing really finely, this kind of thing can start to cause problems. The concavity is over about a 10 inch space, so on a 20 or 30 inch board, it gets to be a real problem. On two that you're trying to join together with the same error, it gets to be a huge problem.

I think little things like this cause a lot of people venturing into hand tools to think that things are difficult.

I believe this is enough of an error that if you had an accurate jointer and planer and then came back to finish plane this board, you would have trouble with it. I've corrected it already now in about 20 minutes - i wouldn't have known what was going on 12 years ago, and encountered this on a #8 when I had a LN 7 at the time. If I planed any board or joint flat with the 7 (the 8 was actually just outside of LN spec according to my feelers), I couldn't plane the board with the 8 - it would take several passes until the ends were clipped off and the board matched the sole, and then I couldn't get an edge glue-up either flat or concave - the ends of the joint were always a little apart. No amount of heavier or lighter shavings or experimentation would fix it so I sold the plane and said it was concave about the amount of spec. A #8 is about twice as expensive as this plane and I didn't have the confidence to fix it (they are far harder to lap, but I can do it now) and then have the plane be saleable if I didn't want to keep it. The #7 LN that I had was so dead flat that it ran circles around the 8 - it was uncanny. That was just around the point that I sold my jointer and large tablesaw and it was a practical handicap.

I got ridiculed at the time by a lot of "real woodworkers" who learned from tage frid at the time. "Taig frid used planes flattened on belt sanders" or some such nonsense. I later posted an omnibus on youtube about hand lapping planes and the equipment needed and took an equal amount of crap from power tool users who claimed to be engineers. All they lacked is knowing what they were talking about, but they didn't lack confidence.

Whoever gets this plane after me will think that it fell from heaven, but it would've been problematic if I sold it as-is.

I don't know what LN thinks about stuff like this. If there was a way in machining to make the error 0 to +.003" instead of -.0015 to +.0015, the planes would be better. But their buyers are likely not educated enough to understand why (on average) and someone with a straight edge and feeler gauges would return a 2 thousandths high at the toe and heel plane, having not idea that what they had in their hands was a gem biased in their favor for actually getting work done.

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